By Tomas Kassahun, Reporter
The new wave of young track stars made quite a splash while two of the top throwers in the state strutted their stuff at gorgeous Veterans Memorial Stadium at the CIF Central Section Masters in surely a preview of the biggest and brightest stage of them all – the state meet.
Buchanan freshman Corie Smith was among the athletes who officially made her mark on the big stage.
Smith started her day with a dominating performance in the 1600-meter race, where she finished first with a time of 5:00.27.
Smith’s teammate Meagen Lowe, another young distance star and only a sophomore, followed in second (5:05.27), while Clovis North junior Blayney Dolan took third (5:06.18).
Smith and Lowe then joined teammate Sydney Fox to complete a sweep in the 3200-meter race. Smith (10.47.95) and Lowe (10.59.22) once again finished first and second respectively, while Fox (11:01.74) took third.
“Having other teammates with you in the same race is just incredible,” Fox said. “Having some in front of you and some behind you and just knowing that you’re always training together and pushing each other is great. Without their moral support, I couldn’t have done it.’’
“I feel like it’s surprising for a lot of people, including myself, that I can come out here at such a young age and win both of these races,” Smith added. “It’s a really good day.”
The top three finishers in each event move on to the CIF State Track and Field Championships held at Veterans June 2-3.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual for Clovis High School discus thrower Jonah Wilson. With a mark of 199.11, the senior edged his cousin Jacob Wilson for a first-place finish. Earlier this year, Jonah set the state record in the discuss (221 feet, 5 inches).
He also ranks second in the state this season in the shot put (64-3).
Jacob Wilson, the Buchanan senior, finished second in discus at the Masters (194-00).
But Jacob got his revenge in the shot put, where he took first with a throw of 64.06.50. Jonah (63-04.00) took second.
“It’s always fun competing with [Jacob]. He’s a really good thrower and I’m a really good thrower,” Jonah said. “It’s a great experience.”
Buchanan earned another first-place finish in the boys’ 1600-meter race, where Hayden Hansen edged Reedley’s Cristian Gomez and finished in 4:15.05.
The Buchanan boys finished the day with an overall score of 45, good enough for third place. Clovis (49) was second, while Central totaled 53 points to take first.
In addition to Jonah Wilson, the Clovis boys got a huge lift from Jake Woods, Pardeep Kandola and Andrew Scherf. Woods finished first in the 300-meter hurdles (38.67), Scherf finished second in the 800-meter run (1:52.53) and Kandola was third in the 1600-meter run (4:19.06).
Alexis Vincent-Walker was the top performer for the Clovis High girls. She finished third in the high jump (5-05.00).
The Cougars had another third-place finish in the 4×400 relay. The team of Julia Hardwick, Trinity Portillo, Alyceann Pointer and Megan Dean finished with a time of 3:56.59.
“This has been a crazy track season,” Dean said. “There’s no better way than to continue it with these girls. I’m so proud of them.”
For Clovis North, the top performer on the boys side was Jacob Veres, who beat out Exeter’s Josh Outten for a first-place finish in the high jump (6-07.00). The Broncos earned another strong performance in the boys’ 200-meter race, where Kurtis Kobzeff was third (22.14).
Clovis North saw more success from its girls, who totaled 62.5 points in the overall standings and finished second.
Danae Manibog was a big factor in the Broncos’ success. The senior was third in the 200-meter run (25.11) and second in the 400-meter run (55.89).
Manibog then joined Rachel Rucker, Chloe Sharp and Brooke Tjerrild in the 4×100 relay, where the Broncos clocked in at 47.65, finishing just ahead of Buchanan (47.93).
Tjerrild continued her strong day in the pole vault, setting a personal record (13-05.00) and finishing in first. The closest to the senior was Clovis West sophomore Elizabeth Funk, who jumped 12-04.00.
Clovis West and Clovis North collided again in the boys triple jump. This time Clovis West sophomore Christian Paulino finished second (46-03.50), while Clovis North junior Shomari Somerville took third (46-00.25).
In the end, nobody was as dominant as the Buchanan girls, who finished on top with 121 points. Cari Acosta was another one of the major contributors for the Bears. The senior was second in discus (148-06) and third in shot put (39-09.75). Then there was Shelby Daniele, who was third in the 100-meter race (12.35).
Daniele was also part of the 4×100 relay team with Jaiden Jones, Victoria Nardella and Logan Winter, which finished second behind Clovis North.
In pole vault, sophomore Haley Barham brought a third-place finish for the Bears (11-04.00).
For Clovis East, Alessandra Quisado was the lone top-three finisher on the day. She finished second in the 100-meter hurdles (15.11).